“I look down this line at the folks all doing this and I just think it’s so cool,” said Southeast and Northeast Meals on Wheels volunteer Dawn Malcolm. “Some of our clients, if you don’t bring them a meal, they don’t eat that day.”
Malcolm was one of 60 volunteers who helped to pack 9,000 meals into 4,000 boxes in Northeast Minneapolis for the third annual Metro Meals on Wheels “Blizzard Box Blitz” on October 27 and 28. Most of the volunteers came from organizations like Target and the Anoka-Champlin Meals on Wheels (ACMOW) program
“Either 2005 or 2004, what happened was we had a blizzard in March, and it kind of came in late. So, there are a bunch of programs that get their meals delivered in the morning, they weren’t able to deliver that day. It wasn’t all the programs, but it was enough programs that we became concerned,” said Beth Shanley, ACMOW volunteer and chair of the services committee.
You can help: Metro Meals on Wheels
Metro Meals on Wheels is the association of 40 Meals on Wheels programs located throughout the Twin Cities. With their program partners, Metro is a leader in the effort to ensure that individuals in our community receive nutritious meals and the human connection they need to enable them to live independently. Metro does this through community awareness, volunteer recruitment, resource development and technical and professional support.
To volunteer, contact the Metro Meals on Wheels office at http://www.meals-on-wheels.com
These meals are intended to sustain clients for days when Meals on Wheels volunteers are not able to get out to deliver food, especially during periods of harsh weather.
“These meals can sit on a client’s shelf through the winter so that if there’s a snow storm on November 1 or a snow storm on March 30, these meals will still be good as opposed to the hot meals we serve everyday,” Shanley said.
Each box contains two meals, which would typically cost up to $4.50 for clients, depending on their financial situation. Through the Blizzard Box Blitz, each meal costs $0.75. Two boxes per client will be delivered over the next month containing “shelf stable” foods such as canned goods and information on health and wellness, avoiding scams, and preparing for emergencies.
Most volunteers, like Malcolm, will be delivering food to clients in their own vehicles.
“It’s all volunteers. My little program, southeast Minneapolis Meals on Wheels, has a guy who comes in for one hour a day, Monday through Friday, and he takes the meals off of Good Samaritans, puts them in bags, and gives them to volunteer drivers. Our board is volunteer. It’s amazing that it works, if you think about it,” said Malcolm. “It runs like that, and has for almost 40 years.”
Target, Second Harvest Heartland, Cub Foods, and General Mills were among the companies that donated food and in-kind donation such as gift cards.
Most of the Meals on Wheels clients live in the metro area and surrounding suburbs. Many are senior citizens who are at nutritional risk or have various disabilities that impair their ability to shop for food on their own.
Some of the Meals on Wheels clients have food delivered to them as often as seven days a week, but usually deliveries are five days of the week. Meals may be free or at a discounted price, depending on their economic situation, according to volunteer and ACMOW community relations employee Karen Evenson.
“Clients are really depending on us to have meals delivered every single day …there’s times when we’re just not going to be able to get our meals out there. We need to supply them with a couple days extra worth of food,” said Jeff Aronen, volunteer for the Meals on Wheels northeast Minneapolis program.
Malcolm spoke of another important function of the program. “Senior nutrition is important. We can’t keep taking people and putting them in assisted living and think that’s gonna work. I’ve seen people get taken out of their homes by their children and they’re crushed. All of a sudden, because they can’t take care of themselves like they’d like to, they get packed away somewhere.” she said. “Programs like this let people stay in their homes.”